Microsoft Corp. will include a fourth, preconfigured, out-of-the-box Web server when its Windows .Net server family ships in the first half of next year.
"We have seen a lot of interest from customers for single-purpose systems," said Bob OBrien, Microsofts group product manager for Windows servers, here at Comdex last week.
The third beta for the server family is due to hit testers later this month.
The first release candidate will appear in the first quarter of next year, followed by the second candidate and then the final code, which is expected to ship toward the end of the first half of next year.
Beta testers will see a far more powerful application development environment, OBrien said, as the Redmond, Wash., company continues to advance its integrated development platform by adding native support for industry protocols such as XML; Simple Object Access Protocol; Web Service Definition Language; and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration. This environment simplifies integration and interoperability and increases developer productivity and enterprise efficiency, he said.
Microsoft has also finalized the names of the various Windows .Net servers. The entry-level file and print server will be known as the Windows .Net Standard server; the Windows .Net Enterprise server, which tended to be the default infrastructure server customers deployed, will have four-node clustering capabilities; and the Windows .Net Datacenter server will serve those enterprises requiring the highest level of scalability and reliability.
OBrien said Microsoft continues to see good adoption of its Datacenter server. The May introduction of the 64-bit code base has increased enterprise interest as customers will now get the highest reliability possible out of their Datacenter product and can start looking at using applications that allow them to exploit this power, he said.
"With these servers, users will also see improvements in several core infrastructure sets—security, performance and scalability," OBrien said.
On the communication and collaboration front, improvements include real-time communications support, the optimization of terminal services and remote access, as well as the ability to restore server-based files that had been deleted or changed by end users.
"Given all the attention security issues have been getting of late, this server family will be the first server product developed under the Secure Windows Initiative," OBrien said. "We have been looking hard as to what we can do in terms of code processes and have substantially improved on many of the scan tools used internally to ensure we captured things like buffer overflow and other types of activities."
Customers had asked Microsoft to ship with the new server line IIS (Internet Information Services) default lockdown, which was a feature of IIS 6.0. Customers will see tighter security out of the box, new authentication technology supported, and safe exchange of business data between systems and customers, officials said.
This latest server family offers enhanced security without complicated configurations for mission-critical applications as well as enhanced clustering support and performance for high-end applications, including new 64-bit support for large memory-intensive processing, OBrien said.
On the scalability front, recent benchmark testing has shown improvements not only on the scale-out, but also on the scale-up, front. A Transaction Processing Performance Council, or TPC-C, benchmark based on the Unisys Corp. ES7000 running Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition placed Microsoft sixth on the Top Ten Non-Clustered performance list and said it delivered the best price/performance in the group.